The collective experience, knowledge, and talents of Ameena Project staff and board of directors make us uniquely suited to leverage limited funding into programs that create dramatic difference in the lives of vulnerable children and families.

Kenyan Staff

A key Ameena Project goal is to empower local leaders to fulfill their visions and passions. Without a doubt, it is the unwavering dedication and determination of Ameena Centre staff that allows this program to flourish. They are deeply integrated into the local community and intimately acquainted with every child, parent, and family in our school.

When a student is absent, staff members check on them, and if a child faces health problems or family-related challenges, they offer support. Ameena Centre administrators and teachers are highly responsive to the input and guidance of community elders and other community members.

The Ameena Project Staff Development Fund is one way we express our appreciation for their commitment. This fund covers costs of continuing education classes and training for staff members and their families, ensuring they have opportunities to grow and develop skills for the future.


Ameena Centre Program Director

Mercy lives in the Thika area and is the mother of two grown sons. She is a college trained early childhood development teacher with a deep passion and talent for bringing out the untapped potential in vulnerable children. She has worked at Umoja Primary School, one of the lowest resource schools in Thika municipality, as well as a local preschool program for children living in extreme poverty. Mercy has seen the positive changes in struggling children when they have the opportunity to attend an educational program that is creative, exciting, and that truly values each child. Her name says it all: Mercy is a true light in dark places. She is powerfully committed to lighting up the lives of the neediest of children.


Security Reliever & Assistant Cook

Hassan lives with his wife and five children in Thika. His youngest daughter was born at the same time as Ameena May and their families have a special connection. Hassan is an incredibly loyal, strong, and dependable man. When Hassan is on duty, the school is assured that everyone and everything will be safe and secure.

Ameena Project - Thomas


Security & Accounting

Thomas is responsible for the security of the Ameena Centre buildings, property and people onsite. He also provides financial accounting support to the program. Thomas lives in Kiganjo, a neighborhood near to Kiang’ombe. He is college educated with a focus on accounting, IT and drawing/design. Thomas previously worked in the steel and quarry industries as an accountant and supervisor. He has a passion for working with humanitarian organizations and is “delighted to be a part of Ameena Project.”

Ian May

Ian May is co-founder of Ameena Project. He moved to Kenya in 2009 and, with his wife Anne, started and managed all aspects of a comprehensive humanitarian project in Thika. By living and working in an isolated location surrounded by slums, he gained a unique understanding of the great obstacles and powerful potential of working in impoverished communities in Kenya. Ian and his family returned to Portland, Oregon in 2010 and formed Ameena Project in 2011 in an effort to continue work in Kenya while living in the U.S.

Currently, Ian works for a county mental health department as the wraparound program supervisor. He supervises the work of multidisciplinary treatment teams for the most acute and complex children and families. Ian returns to Kiang’ombe on a regular basis to provide oversight, professional development, and support to Kenyan staff. He loves ugali, sukumawiki and buzzing around Thika on the back of a boda boda.

“Early in my life I said and did many things that negatively impacted people around me. Life can be so hard, so dark, and so overwhelming. Peace, purpose, and strength are hidden in actions that meet the needs of others. I am grateful when I have something to give that someone else truly needs. In meeting that need, something powerful and positive happens for everyone involved.”

Anne May

Anne May is co-founder of Ameena Project. In 2009, she and Ian moved to Thika, Kenya with their two young children to lead a comprehensive humanitarian project. Anne and Ian’s youngest child, Ameena, was born there during this time.

“My experience in Kenya changed the trajectory of my life. It was an intense and amazing experience, and continues to be. When we step out in faith, we allow God to show up.”

In addition to her leadership of Ameena Project, Anne is employed as a school psychologist, working with school teams and families to identify and serve children with special education needs. Anne returns to Kenya as often as work, family and finances allow. She enjoys the deep connections she has with staff and friends in Kenya. She also loves Kenyan fabrics and handicrafts. Her favorite Kenyan food is irio.

Shari Altree

Shari Altree, recently retired, owned and operated a marketing and advertising agency for over 20 years. She created strategic marketing materials for a variety of businesses in markets across the U.S. As a business owner, Shari understands key aspects of messaging, budgets and timelines. She has volunteered for many years, helping with capital campaigns and charitable giving.

Shari went to Kenya for the first time in 2009 and was forever changed by what she experienced. She is now passionate about efforts that create positive change in Kenya where the need is tremendous.

“We can help interrupt the devastation of poverty by providing the most basic needs: food, education and nurturing. Our children and their moms are thriving today because of these efforts, and it is exciting to see how it’s making a real difference.”

Tia Over

Tia Over joined the Ameena Project board of directors in 2013. Tia serves executive vice president and chief operations officer for Spring Green Communications, delivering communications strategy and execution for corporations and higher and continuing education clients, along with providing pro-bono support to Ameena Project.

Tia is moved by the “acting on the love we were built for” ethos of Ameena Project, and drew close to the children, families and staff of Ameena Centre when she visited Kiang’ombe in the summer of 2017.

“It’s challenging to find the right words to convey the impact that I witnessed our program having on, not only the children, but the parents, teachers and elders,” she said. “Ameena Centre has become the heartbeat of Kiang’ombe, and the community’s gratitude is palpable.”

Tia’s favorite Kenyan food is kachumbari, and she adores the importance of song and dance in Kenyan culture. She can’t wait to return.

We’ve seen our school become the heartbeat of the community with elders and family members uniting to help make the project a success.